Health plans are spending more on engaging with their members

Steven Loeb · January 18, 2023 · Short URL:

Instead of just using phone calls and paper, they are finally using text-based messaging as well

Thanks to the pandemic, healthcare consumers have increased expectations for how they will be treated by all aspects of the system; for example, 50% of patient now want more from their doctors since COVID-19. 

Health plans are taking note of this as well, and many of them spent 2022 investing in initiatives to meet these rising experience expectations from their members.

The annual Engagys and RISE Survey of Healthcare Consumer Engagement Practices, in which nearly 100 entities responded, found that more than half of health plan executives had increased their member engagement budgets in 2022, while more than 75% also said attention on these departments had increased.

The survey found that these health plans were branching out in how they reached out to patients, using multi-channel communications strategies this past year; half of the survey respondents said they had continued to develop multi-channel communication capabilities in 2022, and 48% said they had invested in their member portal.

As the report notes, "this is in stark contrast to the early years of this study," when health plans didn't even use text and mostly relied on call center agents and printed letters. Embracing text-based communication is meeting patients where they've already been for at least a few years: a 2019 survey found that 91% of patients wanted the ability to communicate with their loved one's care team via text messaging.

Still, it seems to be more difficult to actually reach patients, no matter what channel is being used, with four communication channels hitting a 30% effectiveness rate in 2022, compared to six just the year before. 

"No clear frontrunner emerged among communication channels in 2022, suggesting it's getting harder to connect with members and lending support for plans' multi-channel approach," it says in the report. 

In addition to spending more on communication, many health plans also spent money on efforts to standardize data fields across the enterprise; 45% reported doing so, a five-fold increase over 2021. 

Finally, health plans are going to continue to invest in telehealth, with 75% of plans planning to expand telehealth or keep it at post-COVID-19 levels, while less than 20% said it will go down to where it was pre-COVID-19. 

The global telehealth market size is set to grow to over $200 billion before the end of the decade, from $40.52 billion in 2021 to $200.53 billion by 2028, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.9%. A recent survey found that found that over 90% of Americans used telehealth services in the last year, and that 90% enjoyed their experience.

"This is good news for healthcare consumers," says Kathleen Ellmore, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Engagys.

"Even in the face of a national effort to improve member experience, COVID-19 forced a pull back on these investments. Now health plans are back on track with the resources to deliver a world class member experience."

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes